Friday, July 1, 2011

Ganko ramen, Akihabara (宗家一条流がんこラーメン八代目 秋葉)

As usual, I've been enjoying the hell out of Tokyo this month. Every morning I leave home a little early so that I'll have time to cruise on the bike through Tsukiji, Ginza or other neighborhoods, maybe pick up a cold Roots Aroma Revolut (after 7 years, I remain a sucker for Engrish product names)...

and dodge traffic on Sotoboro Doro outside Tokyo Station, or Tokyo Eki as we natives like to say.

Those big buses, they got no game. Straight up.

Straight up, to tha bone.

Really, the bone. A black front and two cow femurs hanging from a chain can mean only one thing - a Ganko ramen shop.

Ganko means 'stubborn', and refers, I suppose, to the insistence on making their ramen in an odd way. With beef bones.

You'd think it also refers to the strictness of the shop rules, like at that ridiculous 69 'n' Roll place. Certainly they don't want you to use cell phones.

I mean, they really don't want you using cell phones, because there's one of these at every place. Curiously, the other things this paragon of scricture says are "Let's take off our hats!" and "You can get a boiled egg for Y100!" It's a good deal more cheerful, somehow.

As is the master, who was a really nice guy. I mean it. I thought he was strict and ganko, but he started talking to me.

Emboldened, I mentioned that I had been to the Ganko in BaBa, and then asked about my beloved Fukumen. I had heard that the old master there was, in fact, THE old master, the one who invented Ganko ramen.

The master here directed my attention to the wall behind me, wherein resides the Ganko family tree (at least to-date, one imagines). It turns out that Ichijo san, the founder, left Fukumen, took 6 months off, and is now working his own new shop in Arakicho. I'll be there soon (and present this information purely as public service; I think you've gotta follow your favorite masters, right?).

It's a mark of respect, I think, that the master here puts on his cards "8th Generation of Ichijo's Style". If you're struggling to put the math together, I surmise that a new generation starts when one finishes apprenticing with Ichijo san. He's only been making Ganko for 20 years or so, according to this guy.

There's something strangely right about Ganko ramen. It doesn't look like much, but the taste is always good. It stays with you. Their style of chashu is also neat - big, round, fatty slices that are so thin they almost dissolve in the soup. It's not my style, but I love it here.

Even when the egg is a little runny, and you make the mistake of ordering 'kotteri' so you get those snow-white gems of pure fat ladled on top.

Hmmm...Ganko project?

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